|MILESAGO: Australasian Music & Popular Culture 1964-1975||Groups & Solo Artists|
Melbourne / UK, 1965-76
Laurie Arthur (guitar, vocals) 1965-67
Greg Cook (drums, vocals) 1970 - March 1971
John Creech (drums, vocals) 1965-70
Rod De Clerk (bass, vocals) 1965-67
Buddy England (vocals) June 1969 - March 1970
Mick Flinn (bass) 1967- May 1972
Dennis Garcia (organ) 1967
Mick Holden (drums) early 1971
Gary Howard (drums) 1970-71
Alan "Edgell" James (bass) late 1966
Idris Jones (vocals) late 1967- June 1969; 1970; 1971
Don Lebler (drums) April 1971 - 1976
Chris Spooner (bass) May 1972 - 1976
Fred Weiland (guitar) 1967
Peter Williams (vocals, guitar) 1971-76
The Mixtures were aptly named. Their decade-long career included some very notable successes, including major Australian and international hits, but the group really never developed a consistent musical style or image and, like so many of their contemporaries, the group was subject to repeated line-up changes in its later years.
Beginning as one of scores of 'beat' acts slogging it out on the Melbourne scene in the mid-60s, they gradually gained national prominence over the next few years. In 1970, now with a completely different line-up, The Mixtures scored two successive #1 Australian singlessingles, one of which also reached #2 in the UK, giving them the unique distinction of being the first Australian group to score an international hit with a song entirely written, recorded and produced in Australia.
By the time they split in 1976 The Mixtures' personnel list had changed several more times -- as had their musical style -- and their short-lived fame had passed. In the process, however, several very prominent performers passed through the ranks, drawn from acts as disparate as Cam-Pact, Axiom and Max Merritt & The Meteors, thus providing another interesting example of the intricate "family tree" connections between so many Australasian groups of this era.
According to historian Noel McGrath, the band had its origins in a chance meeting between Melbourne vocalist Terry Dean and Tasmanian-born bassist Rod De Clerk, who met while Terry was holidaying in Tasmania in 1965. Rod sought Terry out when he visited Melbourne a short time later and Terry took him to a dance where he was performing. It was here that Rod was introduced to guitarist Laurie Arthur, who had been a founder member of leading Melbourne band The Strangers. At the time, Laurie was 'subbing' in a group that included John Creech on drums and as the three chatted between sets they soon discovered that they shared similar tastes in music. They jammed together after the show and decided on the spot to form a group.
Rod moved to the mainland and after just one week's practice they
decided to go full-time. The trio built up a solid following on the
booming Melbourne dance circuit
and became one of the fixtures of the scene there during in that
transitional period. They quickly snagged a contract with EMI, for whom
they recorded their first three
singles. Their first, "Koko Joe" / "I've Been Wrong" (Sep. 1965) was
another piece of good fortune -- the group was in the studio recording
backing tracks (possibly for
another artist -- Laurie Arthur was a seasoned session player) and in
the downtime they cut two tracks of their own. EMI's executives heard
them and were sufficiently
impressed with the results to approve their release as the band's debut
single on the HMV
imprint. It sold well in Melbourne, but it
made little impression elsewhere. It should be noted that commercial
radio stations in Australia's capital cities each had their own charts
at that time, the local scenes
were quite insular, and it was comparatively rare for Sydney-based acts
to chart in Melbourne, and vice-versa.
Their second single was "Come On Out" / "Lose Your Money" (Dec. 1965). Late in 1966 Rod De Clerk left the group briefly, replaced by Alan "Edgell" James, but he rejoined in January 1967, just in time for their first national tour in early 1967. They gained valuable interstate exposure when they supported The Yardbirds, Roy Orbison and The Walker Brothers on the Kenn Brodziak-promoted "Big Show" tour, although Go-Set reported that there was a mishap after one the Melbourne shows when several guitars were stolen, including Laurie Arthur's Fender and a custom-made Gibson Les Paul that Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones had loaned to Yardbirds guitarist Jimmy Page for the tour. Page had recently given up his lucrative career as one of England's top session guitarists to join The Yardbirds as their bassist, but was unexpectedly promoted to lead guitar in late 1966 after his predecessor Jeff Beck abruptly quit during a tour of the USA.
The Mixtures' third HMV single "Music Music Music" / "Maria" was
released in March 1967, at which point the group expanded to a
five-piece with the addition of
Dennis Garcia (organ) and Fred Weiland (guitar, also ex-Strangers).
Soon after, it reverted to a four-piece -- which about the only thing
that remained consistent for the
rest of the band's career -- when Laurie Arthur quit performing to take
over managing the group. In late 1967 Mick Flinn (ex Wild
Colonials) replaced Rod De Clerk on bass. Dennis Garcia left at the end of the year, moving on to Andy James Asylum, and he was
replaced by Idris Jones, who became the lead singer.
The band worked consistently through 1968, becoming very popular on the Melbourne scene, but they released only one recordings during this period, a cover of The Four Tops' "Same Old Song" / "Never Trust In Tomorrow" on EMI's Parlophone label.
Idris Jones was forced to leave the group because of illness in June 1969 and he was replaced for about nine months by noted singer-songwriter-guitarist Buddy England, a well-known Melbourne solo performer, a founding member of the permanent cast of Channel 0's famous '60s pop TV series The Go!! Show, and a latter-day member of The Seekers.
After signing to the CBS label, The Mixtures released two more singles, "Here Comes Love Again" / "Fancy Meeting You Here" (Oct. 1969), which charted in Melbourne, and "Ten Thousand Children" / "Call Me Do" (Mar. 1970). By the time the latter single appeared, Buddy England had left and Idris Jones had rejoined, along with Gary (Dick) Howard (ex-MPD Ltd) who replaced John Creech, the last original member.
In mid-1970 The Mixtures signed to a new Melbourne-based Fable imprint. Its owner, industry veteran Ron Tudor, had made his name as a producer and A&R manager for the W&G and Astor labels, and had discovered both Diana Trask and The Seekers and signed them to their first record contracts with W&G in the early Sixties.
The Mixtures joined the Fable roster at a significant time. A few months before their first Fable single came out, the infamous 1970 Radio Ban came into force. The Ban had come about because the Australian commercial radio peak body, the Federation of Australian Commercial Broadcasters (FACB), was locked in a rancorous "pay for play" dispute with major record companies. The FACB had balked at the labels' demand that commercial radio should pay a new 1 percent broadcast fee for their records, and when negotiations broke down the labels imposed a boycott which blocked commercial radio stations from playing any major Australian or British recordings. The ban lasted exactly six months, from 16 May to 16 October 1970. In retaliation for the Ban, radio stations refused to compile the all-important Top 40 charts.
Fable was one of several smaller local labels that had refused to participate in the boycott (a decision which would cost Ron Tudor dearly) but for a brief interval these small labels were given the rare opportunity to gain commercial airplay for their artists,free from competition by overseas acts, as radio stations scrambled for alternative programming to fill the yawning gap created by the Ban.
The Mixtures were one of several Australian bands who successfully exploited this window of opportunity. Several acts including The Mixtures cut their own versions of proven British hits that were not being played in Australia because of the Radio Ban. Sydney band Autumn was another, scoring a major Sydney hit with their version of Christie's "Yellow River".
During this time, Ron Tudor was being sent regular packages of new UK releases from London by his friend, former EMI house producer David McKay, and he optioned songs he thought would be suitable for his Fable acts. He had already scored a huge hit with the Liv Maessen version of Mary Hopkin's "Knock, Knock, Whos's There?", and when he offered The Mixtures "In The Summertime", a song that had recently been a UK hit for Mungo Jerry. the band jumped at the chance to record it -- although Idris Jones declined to sing on it, feeling it was too 'poppy', so bassist Mick Flinn performed the lead vocal.
Unhindered by any competition from the original, The Mixtures' version (backed by (b/w "Where You Are") shot to #1 in August that year, at the height of the Radio Ban, and it stayed in the charts for 23 weeks. Happily they were able to capitalise on this good fortune with the follow-up, a similarly breezy, honky-tonk-style original, "The Pushbike Song", co-written by Idris Jones and his brother Evan. It was an even bigger success, providing them with back-to-back #1 singles, and charting for an impressive 25 weeks. Significantly, Fable was also able to arrange a distribution deal with Polydor in the UK, where "The Pushbike Song" leaped into the UK Top 5, making it the first record entirely written, performed and produced in Australia to become an international hit. "The Pushbike Song" reached #2 in England the start of 1971 and stayed in the UK Top 50 for 21 weeks. It was also released by Sire Records in the USA, where it reached a creditable #44 on the Billboard Top 100.
Buoyed by the success of the singles, The Mixtures made the
inevitable trip to England in January 1971. During this period they cut
the tracks for their debut LP In
The Summertime, which was
begun at Armstrong's Studios in Melbourne and finished at Morgan
Studios in London. By the time they arrived in the UK there had
been more line-up changes -- Idris Jones left again, replaced by Greg
Cook (ex Cam-Pact), and Mick Holden briefly replaced departing
drummer Gary Howard.
The Mixtures received good media exposure in the UK, including a cover story in New Musical Express, but the personnel changes continued. Cook and Holden both quit in March or April 1971, wanting to return home. The erstwhile Idris Jones, who happened to be in the UK at the time plugging his songs, was drafted back in to replace Cook, and Holden was replaced by noted drummer Don Lebler from the recently defunct 'supergroup' Axiom, who had split only weeks before the release of their second LP, which had been recorded with renowned American producer Shel Talmy.
The Mixtures' next single "Henry Ford" / "Home Away From Home" (Jul. 1971) was only moderately successful in Australia (#29) and soon after its release Idris Jones left for good. His replacement was renowned singer-guitarist Peter Williams, who had been a key member of the legendary Max Merritt & The Meteors in the early Sixties and who had enjoyed even bigger Aussie success fronting chart-topping pop-soul group The Groove in the late Sixties.
This "new" Mixtures, now far removed from its beat-group origins, returned to Australia at the end of the year. They released two new singles, "Never Be Untrue" / "She's Gone Away" (Oct. 1971) and the cult favourite "Captain Zero" / "I Wanna Go Home" (Nov. 1971). "Captain Zero", co-written by Williams and Flinn, furnished the Mixtures with their third and last big Australian hit, reaching #5 in December and charting for 19 weeks. They headed home for a concert tour in November 1971, returning to the UK at the start of 1972, and although they made no further impression on the British charts, they reportedly made a good living on the club circuit there. During 1972, Fable issued an EP, The Mixtures and a compilation LP The Best Of The Mixtures (May).
In May 1972 Chris Spooner replaced Mick Flinn, who eventually settled permanently in the UK. The Mixtures meanwhile signed a deal with the United Artists label, releasing two singles "I Dazzle Diane Easily" / "Found Out Where It's At" (Nov. 1973) and "Slow Train" / "My Home On The Murrumbidgee" (May 1974). The group, now comprising Williams, Weiland, Lebler and Spooner, subsequently returned to Australia and cut a new self-titled LP on the Harlequin label (distributed by Festival Records) and a new single, "Down Under Girls" / "My Neck Of The Woods" (Oct. 1974). Their next single, released in April 1975, was "Skateboard Jive" / "Come Together For The Games", but it was to be their last and the group folded sometime in 1976.
After The Mixtures ...
Mick Flinn remained in the UK and formed a group called Springfield Revival, with Ray Martin and singer Donna Jones. As the name suggests, this group reworked the folk trio format of The Springfields in much the same way that The New Seekers 'revived' the original Seekers. Flinn then became Jones' manager-writer-producer and he and Donna scored two major hits under the stagename Pussyfoot, including the 1977 Australian #1 single "The Way That You Do It". Donna Jones went on to join The New Seekers in 1980. Mick formed the Mick Flinn Band in 1978 and continued to write and produce for other artists, scoring a UK Top 10 hit in December 1984 with the song "Do The Conga", which he co-wrote with Peter Morris and which was recorded by Black Lace. Flinn also joined The New Seekers in 2002, replacing Marty Kristian as front man, although the connections between The Mixtures and The New Seekers went back to the early Seventies -- both groups shared the same management at that time. Mick had also collaborated with New Seeker Paul Layton on the song "Me and My Guitar", which appeared on the B-side of one of their singles and on the 1973 album Peter, Paul & Marty, which featured the three male singers from the New Seekers, including Aussie vocalist Peter Doyle. More recently Mick has revived The Mixtures' name with Fred Weiland for club dates in the UK.
Buddy England has enjoyed a very varied and successful career as a writer, arranger and producer. In 1975 he replaced Bruce Woodley in The Seekers and remained with them until 1981. He currently performs as a meber of The Beach Buddies alongside several other notable Aussie rockers.
Idris Jones left the pop business for some years to work in advertising, composing many successful jingles, and he later teamed up with legendary R'Jays drummer Leon Isackson in Phoenix and, more recently, The Mighty Guys. He was also interviewed in Episode 3 of the ABC's Long Way To The Top.
John Creech joined Bluestone and had several hit singles, including "Wind and Rain", as well as two successful albums. He then joined Bob Valentine & The Sweethearts and remained with them until he began touring the world as percussionist and drummer for pop princess Kylie Minogue. After several years with Kylie, John joined the Russell Morris Band and during this period began a continuing association with Cotton, Keays & Morris as percussionist/drummer and vocalist, touring throughout Australia. He also performs with Buddy England and Peter Robinson in The Beach Buddies.
Mick Holden was a member of the early '70s group Ceduna with Don Mudie (The Groop, Axiom) and Chris Stockley (Cam-Pact, Axiom. The Dingoes) and in the mid-70s he was the drummer in highly-regarded soul-funk outfit The Hot City Bump Band.
Peter Williams joined Perth band Brix in the late 1970s. He currently lives back in his native New Zealand, where he still performs.
"Koko Joe" / "I've Been Wrong"
(HMV EA 4795)
"Come On Out" / "Lose Your Money"
(HMV EA 4813)
"Music, Music, Music" / "Maria"
(HMV EA 4882)
"Same Old Song" / "Never Trust In Tomorrow"
"Here Comes Love Again" / "Fancy Meeting You Here" (Buddy England)
(CBS BA 221687)
"Ten Thousand Children" / "Call Me Do"
(CBS BA 221733)
"In The Summertime" / "Where Were You"
(Fable FB 017) 1970
#1, charted 23 weeks
"The Pushbike Song" / "Who Loves Ya"
(Fable FB 039; UK Polydor 2058 083; US Sire SI 350)
reached # 1 (Aust), charted 25 weeks
reached #2 (UK), charted
"Henry Ford" / "Home Away From Home"
(Fable FB 062; UK Polydor 2058 103)
#43, 3 weeks
"Never Can Be Untrue" / "She's Gone Away"
(Fable FB 082; UK Polydor 2058 135)
"Captain Zero" / "I Wanna Go Home"
(Fable FB 088; UK Polydor 2058 165)
#5, 19 weeks
"I Dazzle Diane Easily" / "Found Out Where It's At"
(United Artists UAK 5287)
"My Home On The Murrumbidgee" / "Slow Train"
(United Artists UK 5443)
"Down Under Girls" / "Neck Of The Woods"
(Festival K 5706)
The Pushbike Song (Fable FBEP 157)
"The Pushbike Song" / "Henry Ford" // "Captain Zero" / "In The Summertime"
(link to cover image)
In The Summertime (Fable FBSA 003)
The Pushbike Song (Summit SRA 250518)
The Best Of The Mixtures (Fable FBSA 017; Axis AX 1210)
1. "Captain Zero"
2. "Travelling Song"
3. "In The Summertime"
4. "I Wanna Go Home"
5. "Hobo's Hideaway"
6. "Oh Mr Jones"
1. "The Pushbike Song"
2. "This Song's For You"
3. "Henry Ford"
4. "Daddy Brings Home The Bacon"
5. "It Ain't Easy"
6. "Never Be Untrue"
The Mixtures (Harlequin L 25184)
The Pushbike Song (REDX R0095)
References / Links
Encyclopedia of Australian Rock & Pop (Allen & Unwin, 1999)
Australian Encyclopedia of Rock(Outback Press, 1978)
Dreams Fantasies & Nightmares: Australia (Borderline Books, 1999)
The Lyn Paul Website
Buddy England webage
The Mighty Guys webpage
The Beach Buddies webpage
Peter Williams - Mainstream Music